Synchronisation of the phenology of insect herbivores and their larval food plant is essential for the herbivores’ fitness. The monophagous brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae) lays its eggs during summer, hibernates as an egg, and hatches in April or May in the Netherlands. Its main larval food plant blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) flowers in early spring, just before the leaves appear. As soon as the Blackthorn opens its buds, and this varies with spring temperatures, food becomes available for the brown hairstreak. However, the suitability of the leaves as food for the young caterpillars is expected to decrease rapidly. Therefore, the timing of egg hatch is an important factor for larval growth. This study evaluates food availability for brown hairstreak at different temperatures. Egg hatch and budburst were monitored from 2004 to 2008 at different sites in the Netherlands. Results showed ample food availability at all monitored temperatures and sites but the degree of synchrony varied strongly with spring temperatures. To further study the effect of temperature on synchronisation, an experiment using normal temperatures of a reference year (T) and temperatures of T + 5°C was carried out in climate chambers. At T + 5°C, both budburst and egg hatch took place about 20 days earlier and thus, on average, elevated temperature did not affect synchrony. However, the total period of budburst was 11 days longer, whereas the period of egg hatching was 3 days shorter. The implications for larval growth by the brown hairstreak under a warmer climate are considered.
De Vries, H. H., Ens, S. H., de Graaf, G., Teunissen, L., te Velde, R., Vogelaar, L., Winterink, A., & Visser, M. E. (2011). Synchronisation of egg hatching of brown hairstreak (Thecla betulae) and budburst of blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) in a warmer future. Journal of Insect Conservation, 15(1-2), 311-319. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-010-9355-6